Caroline Harris

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Caroline Harris (Young)

Birthdate: (71)
Birthplace: Hector,Tompkins,New York
Death: January 19, 1888 (71)
Lewisville, Jefferson, Idaho, USA
Immediate Family:

Daughter of John M. Young, Jr. and Theodocia Young
Wife of Martin Harris and John Catley Davis
Mother of Elizabeth Harris; Martin Harris, Jr.; Dau Harris; Caroline Harris; Julia Lacothia Harris and 7 others
Sister of Charlotte Young; Clarissa Young; Louisa Young Heath Littlefield and Candaca Young
Half sister of Lydia Ann Young; John McCleve Young; Joseph Young; Sarah Young; Grace Young and 1 other

Managed by: Kris Hewitt
Last Updated:

About Caroline Harris

Biographical Summary:

"...Caroline Young, the second wife of Martin Harris, was born May 17, 1816, in Hector, New York, to Theodocia Kimball and John Young, the elder brother of Brigham Young. After a thorough investigation of the Church, John accepted the gospel in 1833. The family then joined the Church and moved to Kirtland, Ohio. Caroline was seventeen years old at this time.

When young Caroline arrived in Kirtland, Martin held a position of community respect as one of the Three Witnesses. As a member of the Young family, also prominent in Kirtland, Caroline met and associated with Martin. She would have known of his standing in the community and his part in selecting her uncle Brigham Young as one of the first Apostles of the Church.

Three years later, when Caroline was twenty, Martin learned of the death of his wife, Lucy. It was after this that Martin approached Caroline with an offer of marriage. Little is known of their courtship other than that the wedding ceremony occurred on November 1, 1836.[10] At the time of their marriage, Martin was fifty-three years old and Caroline was twenty.

Observers have pondered Caroline’s motives for marrying a man thirty years her senior. One author described Caroline as an “attractive young woman, a member of one of the most prominent families in the church.” Another report indicated that Caroline suffered a childhood disease that left her face pockmarked and distracted from her appearance, “leaving her beautiful face scarred so badly that she resolved never to marry. That may be one reason why she was willing to accept a suitor who was 33 years her senior..."

"...During the next few years, Caroline remained in Kirtland with Martin while the body of the Church moved first to Far West, Missouri, and then to Nauvoo, Illinois. During this time Caroline remained faithful to the Church, while Martin was involved in various apostate causes. Caroline’s encouragement may have prompted Martin to confess his sins and to request rebaptism as a member of the Church in 1842. However, to Caroline’s disappointment, Martin’s repentance did not appear sincere, since by 1844 he was again involved in apostate activities. During this time, three more children were born to Caroline and Martin: a daughter named Caroline, born in 1840; another daughter, Julia, in 1842; and a second son, John, in 1845. In 1846 Martin left Caroline to care for her young family alone when he accepted a mission call to England as a representative of the apostate James J. Strang. During Martin’s absence Caroline remained faithful to the Church and patiently endured his apostasy..."

"...In 1847 Caroline’s uncle Brigham Young led the Church West to the Great Salt Lake. She desired to join the exodus, but Martin refused, feeling that he, rather than Brigham Young, should lead the Church. Over the next few years, Caroline continued to encourage Martin to reconsider and join the Saints in the West. During this challenging time she gave birth to her fifth child, Sarah, in 1849, and during the next year lost her second child, Caroline, who died at age ten..."

"...In the spring of 1853, missionary David B. Dille visited the Harris family in Kirtland. At this time Caroline was thirty-seven years old and Martin, seventy. He found Martin bitter toward the Church and opposed to the practice of plural marriage..."

"...Later that year, Caroline gave birth to their sixth child, Solomon Webster, bringing the number of living children to five..."

"...Caroline was thirty-nine years old and expecting her seventh child when she decided to leave Martin and travel with her children to join her father’s family in Salt Lake City. Her determination is evident because she left behind comfortable and prosperous circumstances. Little is known of the immediate events that led her to the final decision to leave Martin, but it was at this time that the family of her sister, Louise Littlefield, was preparing to leave for Utah..."

"...Caroline left Kirtland and traveled as far as Pottawattamie, Iowa, where she gave birth to her seventh child, Ida May, on May 27, 1856. During the next three years, Caroline stayed in Iowa near the family of her sister, Louise Littlefield. In June 1859 she left with her children and the Littlefields in the Horton D. Haight wagon company..."

"...One member of the Haight company recorded in his journal on June 28, 1859, that Caroline began hemorrhaging and nearly died. The company stayed in camp for a day, anxious for her welfare. She then stayed behind under the care of the Littlefield family until she recovered sufficiently to rejoin the wagon train..."

"...Upon her arrival in Salt Lake City, Caroline’s father, John Young, welcomed her family into his home. Martin Jr. and his two brothers, John and Solomon, soon left Salt Lake City to live in Smithfield, Utah (Logan area). Caroline then met John C. Davis, an English convert who had lost his wife while crossing the plains. She agreed to marry him even though she was still married to Martin. Caroline must have considered the proposal with her characteristic practicality since she needed a husband to support her family. The decision also seemed reasonable since she had not heard from Martin for five years and would likely never see him again..."

"...Caroline and John were married in her father’s home by Caroline’s brother-in-law, Lyman Littlefield, on January 16, 1860. The new couple made their home in Payson, a community in south Utah County. In February Caroline’s daughter Julia married John’s son, Elijah Davis..."

"...After Julia’s marriage, Caroline had only Ida, age four, to care for until the arrival of Caroline and John’s first child. This infant, whom they named Joseph, died shortly after birth.

After the death of her son, Caroline faced another crisis when her husband argued with Brigham Young over a parcel of land. John threatened to leave the Church if the matter was not resolved in his favor. Caroline took the side of her uncle Brigham, resulting in her separation from John. Caroline moved into a home in Salt Lake City and again used Harris as her last name. During the next few years, Caroline and her son Martin Jr. corresponded with Martin and encouraged him to come West..."

"...Edward Stevenson, a Church representative, next visited Martin Harris. He arranged Church funding to assist Martin to leave Kirtland and move to Salt Lake City. They traveled by train and arrived in Ogden, Utah, on August 30, 1870..."

"...Martin Jr. moved his father to his home in Smithfield, where he could care for him. Caroline also moved to Smithfield but lived in her own home near her son and Martin.[41] While little is known regarding her relationship with Martin during their four years together in Smithfield, it is apparent that they had a congenial association..."

"...Martin died at age ninety-two in his son’s home in Clarkston on July 10, 1875. There is no record of Caroline’s response, but after almost forty years of marriage, she must have felt the loss. Following Martin’s death Caroline suffered a stroke that left her unable to care for herself.[43] She remained in Smithfield until 1885, when her son decided to homestead in Lewisville, Idaho (near Idaho Falls). He moved his mother to his new home to provide the continued care she required. Caroline lived in Idaho with her son’s family until her death January 19, 1888, at age seventy-two. Her family buried her in the Lewisville cemetery..."

SOURCE: Dennis A. Wright, “Caroline Young Harris: The Kirtland Wife of Martin Harris,” in Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint Church History: Ohio and Upper Canada, ed. Guy L. Dorius, Craig K. Manscill, and Craig James Ostler (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2006), 111–123. Retrieved from

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Caroline Harris's Timeline

Palmyra, Wayne County, New York, United States
Palmyra, Wayne County, New York, United States
May 17, 1816
Hector,Tompkins,New York
Age 4
January 28, 1838
Age 21
Kirtland, Lake County, Ohio, United States
Age 22
Kirtland, Lake, Ohio, USA
Age 23
Kirtland, Lake, Ohio, USA
April 29, 1842
Age 25
Kirtland, Lake, Ohio, USA